Dear Thelma Lou,

When I first brought you home, I couldn’t quit saying, “You’re the sweetest puppy I’ve ever known.”

I would do this for hours, speaking in a high-pitched voice like a certifiable lunatic.

But I couldn’t help myself, it was true. You actually are the sweetest puppy I have ever known.

Tonight, we are apart. You’re sleeping in a veterinary clinic instead of with me.

I don’t want you to worry about anything. It’s just a small, harmless tumor on your eyelid, nothing serious, doctors say you’ll be fine.

Tomorrow morning, the surgeon will sedate you, you’ll go to sleep, they’ll snip the tumor. Voila. Before you know it, you’ll be eating cat poop again.

But nighttime is the hard part. You’re in a cage, and I’m not with you. I’m writing you because I want you to know I’m thinking about you.

And you shouldn’t be scared because—and you might not know this, Thel—though we are apart, we are actually together.

Distance might separate us, but distance is not real. Nothing can separate love. I know it sounds crazy, but hearts do not know the difference between miles and minutes.

I first came to believe this when I was seventeen.

One night, I was on a truck tailgate in a hayfield outside Freeport, Florida. I was eating barbecue, looking at the sky, missing someone I once loved.

And it all sort of hit me at once. I don’t know what hit me, exactly, all I can tell you is that “it” hit me.

I can’t explain it. If I could explain it, then it wouldn’t be the real thing.

But when this moment happened I saw something—and I swear it on Bear Bryant’s grave. It was a shooting star.

Suddenly, I felt warm all over. It was as though I were surrounded by a great company of the heavenly host. Friends, ghosts, good dogs, parents, infant souls, and deceased football coaches with six national titles.

Since that evening, I have believed in a glue that binds the universe together. The same power that makes grass grow and worlds turn.

It makes barbecue sauce sweet, marigolds yellow, biscuits fluffy, and the sky big. Some call it love. I don’t care what you call it.

Anyway, I know, it’s ridiculous to talk this way to a dog. After all, you’re not human. But then, I have no children, and who else is there?

Heaven didn’t see fit to bless us with kids, instead it gave us dogs like you and your brother. And I am grateful for it.

I will never forget the sunny day I met you. It was a farm in Molino, Florida. You were running toward me in an open field. You were all ears. You couldn’t run a straight line, your skin was loose, you smelled like a dead possum.

I held you in my arms; you bit my ear and drew blood. I kissed you; you headbutted me. And I knew I needed you.

Long ago, when I was a boy, I had a dog named Goldie. I met her the same way I met you. She became my closest friend. She slept in my bed, she waited in a windowsill for me to arrive home from school, she followed me like a shadow.

On the night she passed, before her eyes rolled backward, I promised her something. It’s a promise I have made to every dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of loving. And I’m promising it to you, Thel.

I promise to love you. That’s what this letter is, I suppose. A love letter.

I have nothing but words, you see, but words are precious to me. And, even though your eyes will never be human enough to read this, and your ears will never understand, you will feel it. And that’s enough.

Well, it’s late, and I’m rambling. I’m typing a letter to a bloodhound. People are going to think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have. I guess I’m just not used to sleeping alone.

You are the sweetest puppy I’ve ever known.

Love,
Dad

43 comments

  1. carol0goodson - January 23, 2019 6:38 am

    Completely understand. Have you ever seen the film, I AM? You really should: it confirms what you said about love uniting hearts: that is actually, physically TRUE. All will be well when you get her back tomorrow.

    Reply
  2. Janet Mary Lee - January 23, 2019 7:51 am

    Nothing wrong at all with a love letter to a dog, Dad!! After all, he is yours!! Not by ownership but by love!! You both are very “lucky”!! I know, because I have been too!! Beautiful letter!!

    Reply
  3. rantsandravescom - January 23, 2019 8:20 am

    I love my dog. Her name is Bitsy. She is now 10 yrs old. She thinks I’m her mom and my husband is her child she curls up with me and grooms his bald head and ears. She has to clean his head and ears. He has to take his hearing aid out so she can lick his ear. If he has a scratch on his skin she has to lick it clean unless I can get to it first. I have had dogs all my life. They love you unconditionally. They snuggle you if your sad, play with you any time you want and greets you when you come home bouncing with a tail swirling like a windmill. Dogs are God’s gift of love to mankind.

    Reply
  4. Trina V - January 23, 2019 12:16 pm

    Love your letter to Thel! She and Otis knew they hit the jackpot when they picked you and Jamie.

    Reply
  5. Melanie - January 23, 2019 12:35 pm

    Well Sean if you have lost your mind then we all better start looking for ours. 😉❤️ Just beautiful.

    Reply
  6. Robina Schroeder - January 23, 2019 12:37 pm

    Sending prayers for the doctor’s steady hand and Thelma Lou’s quick healing.

    Reply
  7. Beth Ann Chiles - January 23, 2019 12:53 pm

    there are a lot of us out here that have lost out minds evidently. Our pets are so much more than pets. They are humans with fur. Sometimes much better than humans (except when they poop and pee and throw up in places less than desirable) because they give love unconditionally and completely. And all they ask for is love and maybe some treats now and then. Thanks for your ode to Thelma. Praying she is home with you soon and living her best life.

    Reply
  8. Mona - January 23, 2019 12:56 pm

    Tom T. Hall said it best: “Ain’t nothin in this world worth a solitary dime cept Old Dogs and Children, and Watermelon Wine. What a lucky girl your Thelma is!

    Reply
  9. Edna B. - January 23, 2019 1:19 pm

    I talk to my little Pogo all the time. I share everything with him and take him with me wherever I go. Except some supermarkets. I cannot imagine a morning waking up without him. When I was in the hospital with blood pressure so high that nothing would bring it down, they would not let my little guy come visit me. But, I was only home a few minutes when my blood pressure was back to normal. Pogo is family to me, and me to him. I agree that dogs are God’s gift to us. I’m praying for a quick recovery and healing for Thelma Lou. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  10. Jess in Athens, GA - January 23, 2019 1:23 pm

    I feel the same way about my deceased dog Bailey. I loved her more than I’ve loved some people. She was meant to be my dog even though at first when she was tiny I gave her to my daughter. After three or four years my daughter gave Bailey back to me because whenever she brought Bailey over to my house it was clear that she loved me soooo much. Bailey and I shared ten years together before cancer claimed her life. That was four years ago, and I still miss her soooo much. I cried lots of tears when she passed, but Belle my new pal is taking up the slack….and I love Belle like I loved Bailey. Hope Thel will be as good as new when you pick her up from the vet’s. Cheers!

    Reply
  11. Karen - January 23, 2019 1:24 pm

    Romans 8:39 New International Version (NIV)

    neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Reply
  12. Jean - January 23, 2019 1:31 pm

    I still grieve over my dobie…that has been gone a long time. Seems some fur babies are just more special than others…but I love them all too..I guess those of us who love fur babies are a bit crazy. Who cares? not me!

    Reply
  13. Jackye Thompson - January 23, 2019 1:39 pm

    I loved your letter to Thelma Lou.I love my poodle ,Timothy and tell him all the time.Hooe your
    sweet girl is o.k.Jackye

    Reply
  14. Kathryn - January 23, 2019 1:40 pm

    I just lost my little 3.5 lb toy poodle two nights ago. She died in my arms. She was 16. She was so tiny by then, having lost a pound of herself, that I didn’t even feel her draw her last breath. Funny thing, Sassy wasn’t really my dog. She had belonged to my mama who passed in 2013, but who extracted a promise from me before leaving this earth to take care of Sassy. But Sassy became my dog very quickly, and by the time she passed, my heart was hers. And now, it’s broken. So, I fully understand loving these four-legged creatures, who love us unconditionally despite our frailties. I think Thelma Lou and Sassy would have been great friends.

    Reply
  15. Kathy Daum - January 23, 2019 1:42 pm

    I believe it, too. It binds us who love each other.

    Reply
  16. Peggy Savage - January 23, 2019 2:00 pm

    A special love letter to a special friend from a special human being…..thank you Sean….

    Reply
  17. Debbie Britt - January 23, 2019 2:20 pm

    😍 I think she knows even though she can’t read!

    Reply
  18. Brenda - January 23, 2019 2:24 pm

    Dear Sean, Thank you for putting into words my exact thoughts on every dog I’ve ever loved. When my Cheyenne was 11 yrs old she developed Cushing’s. Our mobile vet suggested she go to the doggie hospital overnight so they could give her meds and nourishment through IV’s. She did not get better and we had to put her to sleep the next day. I brought her home and our mobile vet did the deed with her in my loving arms. I felt guilty for a while for her spending her last night in a hospital away from me, until my vet reminded me that if I hadn’t taken her to the hospital I would have felt I didn’t try hard enough to save her. That night, in her doggie bed, I found a slobber mark in the form of a perfect heart! It was my shooting star and her way of telling me that she was still with me and that love never dies . Thank you again for reinforcing my belief. And I pray Thel is home with you give you and Jamie many wet sloppy kisses! Brenda

    Reply
  19. Shelton A. - January 23, 2019 2:44 pm

    What a wonderful letter! Thelma Lou is lucky to have you for a Dad. I do understand how you feel. You may not believe that, but I do. God bless and may Thel’s surgery bring the best possible results.

    Reply
  20. Carol - January 23, 2019 3:08 pm

    Praying fot Thel , I understand exactly how you feel
    My two furbabies are just that , babies to me and will always be 2 yrs old , in and out , up and down, whining, begging, climbing up in my lap!!
    Aren’t they beautiful and loving. I have two grown children, but they have their lives now
    So Bella and Ollie. Are together!
    I even leave the TV on when I go out and tell them where I’m going and I’ll be right back.
    What a welcome I get when I come home.
    Give Thel a great big hug when you go get her from all her fans❤️
    Love ya!

    Reply
  21. Chuck Gerlach - January 23, 2019 3:16 pm

    Dogs are the best. And never forget, DOG spelled backward is GOD !! No other creature on the planet that I am aware of freely GIVES love 100% unconditionally as a dog. None. So when they (or we) are away, or ill or sad or ….., it is difficult to not miss them or feel bad or alone or …

    Dogs are just the best. Absolutely; for sure, and indubitably !!

    Reply
  22. Maria Prince - January 23, 2019 3:28 pm

    Wow I couldn’t have come near to saying it as well as you did. I do believe dogs are a great gift to help us live in this crazy world. Their unconditional love and acceptance fills such a void in my life anyway.

    Thank you Sean!

    Reply
  23. Jack Darnell - January 23, 2019 3:46 pm

    You might fool some folk dude, but I ain’t believing Thelma is gonna read this, just sayin! ………………………………….. Not saying she might not know it, jsut that she ain’t gonna read it! ……………………………. Is she? :-O

    Reply
  24. Irene Cyburt - January 23, 2019 4:41 pm

    Dear Sean, This arrived in my in box today, which happens to be my husband’s 77th birthday. He also received some Email cards, one from AARP, and one from his doctor, and even a few from friends who forgot to send cards early enough to arrive on time. He even received a FREE meal from a local barbecue restaurant, which must be used in the next two weeks. I think when he reads your letter to Thelma, he will agree that it would be similar to the best love letter he could send to his American Eskimo, JOY, who loves him more than anything else. Well, maybe not as much as chasing deer or eating bacon flavored treats. Perfect timing! Thanks, Irene

    Reply
  25. Heather Felt - January 23, 2019 5:57 pm

    My husband likes to say that if the marriage laws change again, perhaps my dream will come true and I can also marry Scout, our three legged Golden Doodle. He is my heart throb…

    Reply
  26. William Hubbard - January 23, 2019 7:05 pm

    Sean, surely you know that all dogs go.to Heaven! When we get to go over the rainbow bridge, we’ll be welcomed by slobber and dog breath, and won’t that be just great!

    Reply
  27. Gale Smith - January 23, 2019 9:47 pm

    I have had a connection with every dog that ever owned me….a sort of telepathy. Words weren’t necessary: we called or talked to each other without making a sound. Dogs know when they are more than just a pet. When they are part of your family, it is one of the most wonderful gifts you will ever have. Thel knows what you are telling her and she will be fine. My dog had the same thing and you cannot even tell where the small tumor was removed from his eyelid. I was a basket case, but he calmly and lovingly reassured me we would both survive the ordeal. I am glad Thel picked you. She got the pick of the litter, Sean.

    Reply
  28. Chuck Cooper - January 23, 2019 10:32 pm

    Scrapper was his name. He was a stray that picked our back yard as home when I was in 3rd grade. He was my buddy…my constant companion…followed me every where whether walking, running, bicycling or just walking in the surrounding woods where he would chase a rabbit or a squirrel! He loved to follow me to school every day because the kids would provide him with their tasty PBJ sandwiches, crackers and cookies. Later, he would be an always present cheerleader at football, baseball, track meets. It was tough to leave Scrapper. when I enlisted in Uncle Sam’s Air Force. Tougher yet when my family moved from Ohio to Central Illinois….Scrapper was missing, my Dad told me by phone….couldn’t find him after searching the area for days. Two months later, Dad called with a thrilling message. Our former Ohio next-door neighbors called Dad to say that Scrapper, skinny, weak but tail-wagging showed up at their back door. Dad drove back to Ohio and retrieved my best friend. Head laid on Dad’s lap all the way back to Illinois. My reunion with Scrapper while on leave from USAF was so special. He was spoiled rotten and jumped into bed with me every night I was there. (Not bad for an “outdoor” dog who was banned from the house, but Mom & Dad relented while I was at home!) Was tough to leave him, but he was not allowed on Duluth Air Base.The final call caused me to cry….Scrapper had succumbed to too many birthdays! Memories of our adventures remain precious ones!

    Reply
  29. dogsdolls - January 23, 2019 10:50 pm

    I have never had a puppy, they have always been adult rescues…and they have always been so very loved. Thank you for this love letter.

    Reply
  30. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - January 24, 2019 1:41 am

    Sean, you are a dear, dear man. It was an honor to listen to you and then get to meet you in Gadsden last Friday night. I’m the redhead who hopes you can come to Oxford to perform as well.

    Reply
  31. Lori McDaniel - January 24, 2019 2:36 am

    This makes me happy. I’m reading this while my blue tick/shar pei mix (what?!) hogs the ottoman forcing me to sit criss-cross applesauce in my chair. That’s how I love my doggie too, and my favorite deceased dog Lucy. My doggies have gotten me through awful times when my human friends and relatives just didn’t understand. My doggies understand me. Now I have children, and I see Teddy the hound/shar pei teaching them to love in that same way. I think pets allow us to release all the pent up love we have that we cannot always pour on to humans. They teach us to love MORE…more physically, more verbally, more fun and more simply. It’s a lesson I’m willing to relearn with each pet….but oh my Teddy and Lucy were and are so very special!

    Reply
  32. jeannenole - January 24, 2019 5:53 am

    The closest thing ( on this earth) to unconditional love – and constant joy – why not a love letter to our heart! A great love and the deepest grief – but who would choose not to engage?

    Reply
  33. Mary Ellen Hall - January 24, 2019 6:21 am

    Such a BEAUTIFUL, SWEET LETTER!!!🐶💙💙
    I’m SO GLAD to know; I’m NOT the only one who feels the EXACT SAME WAY you do, about our BEAUTIFUL PUPS!!!🐶❤❤❤

    Reply
  34. Dana Dunnigan - January 24, 2019 4:07 pm

    Praying for you and Thelma Lou, that she comes through her surgery just fine and that you are together again very soon!

    Reply
  35. Lynn Hedges. A Simple Faith - January 24, 2019 7:41 pm

    NO it isn’t wrong or silly to talk to an animal like this.
    Animals understand far more than most people give them credit.
    They are our Babies.
    Love is Love
    ❤️🐾

    Reply
  36. BONIDA K KIMBROUGH - January 25, 2019 3:18 am

    So how is sweet Thelma Lou tonight???

    Reply
  37. rantsandravescom - January 26, 2019 2:10 am

    Dogs are love in fur packages. ♥️Got Thelma

    Reply
  38. Gwen Monroe - January 26, 2019 9:17 pm

    I know!! You hate that your baby is in a strange place for the night and you don’t want them to be afraid! ❤️

    Reply
  39. Barbara Smith - February 22, 2019 11:03 am

    I know. Believe me, I know.

    Reply
  40. Carolyn Kelley - February 22, 2019 12:15 pm

    Beautiful that’s all I can. I miss my fur babies😢

    Reply
  41. Laura Goslee - February 22, 2019 1:03 pm

    Father God, Bless a safe succesful surgery for Sean’s baby girl we pray. Thank you for blessing us with love, precious, heart expanding, compassion growing, life changing, amazing love to give and recieve! Amen.
    I don’t know if we humans are born knowing how to love but we definetly have the capacity to learn it from others. Our puppy girl has taught us much about love.
    I think love stays and continues to bless our hearts long after, maybe forever, when the giver dies. My grandparents love is still teaching and blessing me years past their time here. It is so precious to me. Missing our loves when they go home has somehow softened as I continue to feel the embrace of their love they blessed me with. Since prayers are love, they continue on as well, blessing whom they were prayed for. So very precious is love. Far beyond any other quest, it is what we are here to learn and do the best we can. Not perfectly.. but with love, beautifully. To be a part of hands on loving is such a gift to be a part of. I almost left once so I know this and hope to never forget it.
    Bless your tender loving heart and the ever expanding love that grows there Sean. I give thanks to God for you and your heart, your wife, your babies and all your loves because all that love blesses all of us!

    Reply
  42. Alice - February 22, 2019 1:14 pm

    Love your letter I know how you feel as I am an animal lover myself Thel is lucky to have you I love all your stories Sean love you God Bless you

    Reply
  43. Brenda Powell - February 22, 2019 4:20 pm

    I needed to see this today. My best friend got killed almost a month ago and I miss him so much. My only comfort is that I loved him so much and he loved me. He knew love. I keep whispering to him that I still love him. I hope he is in heaven and hears my whispers. He was a good dog but more importantly he was my best friend. I like your image of all of this is woven together. Your words gave me comfort.

    Reply

Leave a Reply